You hold the key to your J-1 students’ positive Summer Work & Travel experience…
1) When your student(s) initially arrive, try to be the first to meet and greet them. If possible, pick up your J-1 student(s) from the airport, bus station or train station.
2) Bring your J-1 students to their new housing establishment. If you are not housing your J-1 students, try to arrange meeting up with the landlord and introduce your J-1 student(s) to them. J-1 housing should be safe, up to codes and should never be overcrowded.
3) Ask your J-1 students if they have registered with SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System). This should be one of the first things they do when they arrive in the U.S. Registering with SEVIS notifies the Department of Homeland Security that your J-1 students have arrived in the U.S. and are ready to begin their J-1 Work & Travel experience. Once your students have registered, they will be assigned a SEVIS number and it will be on record that they have an “active” status. Make sure your students do not make an appointment to apply for their Social Security cards until they have first registered with SEVIS. *For questions about registering in the SEVIS database please contact your sponsor.
4) Help your students understand how to obtain their social security cards.
The Social Security office has a new online Social Security card application process. Following this process will result in your J-1 students getting their Social Security cards faster. To apply, they must be at least age 18 and have a U.S. mailing address to receive mail (your business address is often the best choice). To access the online Social Security card application, instruct your J-1 students to use a mobile device or computer and go to https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/. Let them know that all the information on the application must be filled out correctly including their full name, date of birth and the mailing address where the cards are to be mailed.
Once they have carefully completed the online Social Security card application and have submitted it, your students must set up an appointment to visit the Social Security office in Saco, Maine. When they go to their appointment, make sure they bring their passport and all of their original Work & Travel documents, plus copies of these documents. Make sure they have also printed or written down their Online Application Control Number and that they bring it with them to their appointment. This will help the person who is helping them at the Social Security office to retrieve their online application more quickly.
After the Social Security Administration verifies your students’ documents and completes their request to receive a Social Security number, they will receive their Social Security card in the mail within 14 business days.
*NOTE: As long as your students have their receipts from the Social Security office showing they have applied for their Social Security numbers, you can still pay them while they are waiting for their Social Security cards to arrive.
The local Social Security Administration is located at:
Social Security Administration
110 Main Street – #1450, Saco, Maine 04072
Hours: Monday-Friday from 9 am – 4 pm
5) Introduce your J-1 students to the community:
- Upon arrival, if you can, take time to drive your J-1’s to the bank, grocery store(s), pharmacy and nearby laundromat.
- Show them the Police & Fire Stations, Town Hall and Library.
- Provide your J-1’s with a local map and the most up-to-date Chamber of Commerce Vacation Planner.
- Show them our beautiful beach.
- Let your J-1 students know where the closest hospitals, clinics, and dentists are located.
- Drive them to the Social Security Office in Saco and help them with the process of getting situated with their social security cards.
Help your J-1’s to understand the various modes of transportation that are available in the area including buses, trolleys, trains, and bikes.
6) Encourage your J-1 students to attend local events that have been planned specifically for their benefit as well as to broaden their cultural experiences. You can count on the following key J-1 events to occur each year in our community:
J-1 Student Orientation
Each year in late June we host a J-1 Orientation (often held at the Salvation Army), specifically for J1 students. This orientation is very beneficial and provides your J1 students with so many local resources to help them get settled in our community as quickly as possible. The orientation also gives them a chance to meet other J-1 students from around the world in a casual and fun setting with food, drinks and lots of giveaways.
During the J-1 Orientation, your J1 students can expect to meet representatives from (at least) the following organizations:
- OOB Fire & Rescue
- OOB Police Department
- Social Security Office
- Chamber of Commerce
- Libby Memorial Library
- Amtrak Downeaster
- BSOOB Transit
- Cellular phone companies
- Town Manager’s Office (Including the J-1 Coordinator)
- Sponsoring Organizations
*Be on the lookout for 2024 J-1 Student Orientation details. Please provide your J-1 international students the opportunity to attend this important informational kick-off event.
Formerly known as J Day, Exchange Day occurs annually throughout the U.S. in early August. Exchange Day is a chance for J-1 Summer Work & Travel participants, sponsors and members of host communities to gather in a fun setting, eat, play, share cultural experiences, and “give back” to communities through volunteer efforts.
The 2023 Exchange Day was held on Monday, August 7, 2023 from 2-5 pm, in front of the Brunswick at Old Orchard Beach. J-1 Students from around New England experienced a fun-filled and memorable afternoon.
7) Create a positive, team-oriented work environment and show your J-1 students that you value them:
- Look at the diversity among your staff as a gift and promote that everyone take time to learn about each other’s cultures.
- Train your staff for success and let them know you are available as a resource if they need help understanding work routines, policies, and expectations.
- Be positive and keep the lines of communication open and healthy.
- Encourage your J-1 students to use their English as much as possible and patiently help them to develop their English skills.
- Hold weekly operational meetings and provide feedback to your J-1s about how they are doing on the job; be constructive and always praise that which is praiseworthy.
- Following your weekly meetings, consider providing your employees with snacks or lunch. This small act of generosity and kindness will go a long way in building relationships and trust among your very diverse team.
- Consider honoring one employee per week with the distinction of “Employee of the Week.” Possibly include giving that employee a small token of appreciation (grocery store gift card, Maine Mall gift card, coffee shop gift card, cash, etc.).
- Pay your J-1 students as you would any other employee. All J-1 students should be paid weekly or bi-weekly through your payroll system and should be paid the prevailing minimum wage or above.
8) Understand that your J-1 students will probably seek out a second job while here…
While your J-1 students are here they will likely have an interest in getting a second job. Although their first priority is always to you as their primary employer, it is certainly okay for J-1 students to get another job as long as it does not conflict with the primary work schedule given to them. Once J-1 students are offered a second job, they should share their employment opportunity with their sponsor as their second jobs must be vetted and approved by their sponsoring organization. This is usually easy for both the business owner where the second job opportunity exists and the J-1 student, and only requires a small amount of paperwork. Getting a second job approved also helps to ensure that the place of employment they are seeking a second job from is reputable and will provide a quality work experience.
9) Encourage your J-1 students to enjoy and learn about the area during their time off. Their J-1 Work & Travel experience is truly intended to be a cross-cultural experience with a work component. The “cross-cultural” component is an essential part of the program. Here are some fun ideas for promoting cultural immersion in and around our community: